Letters to the Editor

Risks from full-body scans outweigh any benefits

I feel compelled to respond to the April 6 letter in which Dr. Paul Long stated, "We should be concentrating on doing total body scans to find at least eight different cancers that we cannot find any other way. You need a ... scan every 18 months, and it is the best way to stay alive that I know."

First, there has been no study published in a peer reviewed medical journal that has found benefit to doing routine CT scans on healthy individuals nor any recommendation from major organizations, such as the American Cancer Society.

Second, CT scans use X-rays, and the dosage they expose the body to is considerably higher than from conventional X-rays. Total body scans expose the entire body to a high level of radiation, as compared to a scan of a specific symptomatic region.

Radiation exposure and its cancer-stimulating risk is cumulative over a lifetime, so repetitive exposures can reach worrisome levels, even with bonafide medical necessity. The dosage from a total body scan is equivalent to 100 chest X-rays.

Third, absent any scientifically proven data to confirm the benefit of total body scans in finding undiagnosable cancers at a curable stage and the known cancer-causing risk of radiation, especially total body radiation, it is not medically appropriate to recommend their usage for screening of asymptomatic persons.

Dr. Carl J. Canzanelli